The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has requested that the Scottish Government lift ‘draconian restrictions’ which wreck the feasibility of Scottish bookmakers making a lockdown business comeback.
Closed since mid-March, Monday 29 June allowed the 900 betting shops in Scotland to reopen.
However, ministers of the Scottish National Party (SNP) introduced last-minute rules that allow betting shops to withdraw chairs and turn off equipment, in addition to prohibiting venues from broadcasting live racing.
Scottish Finance Secretary Kate Forbes, sanctioning the limits, said the decision had been taken “to avoid clusters of people gathering to watch live sport.”
The BGC said the SNP desperately had to reconsider its reopening conditions for betting shops, in which it put 4,500 people at risk of losing their employment.
Asking First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to take direct action, BGC CEO Michael Dugher said: “Our members warned in advance that the draconian restrictions being proposed by the Scottish Government were unnecessary and would have a devastating impact on their businesses – sadly they have been proved right.”
“Nicola Sturgeon was right to say she wanted every business ‘trading viably’ but the Scottish Government is single-handedly wrecking the viability of hundreds of betting shops in Scotland. Scottish betting shops are bracing themselves for closures and there are thousands of jobs at stake unless Nicola Sturgeon re-thinks.”
Betting leadership has lambasted the policies of the Scottish government as ‘ridiculous’ and much more restrictive than those placed elsewhere in the UK.
Monitoring Scottish betting shops, the BGC pointed out that incumbents ‘have seen their turnover fall by up to 95 percent compared to before lockdown.’
Dugher further added: “Making bookies open without any chairs or live racing shows a complete misunderstanding of how they operate. Customers don’t sit in for hours – they like to pop in for a bet and then sit down and watch how their horse or greyhound got on.
“I’ve seen how betting shops elsewhere in the UK have been able to re-open perfectly safely with social distancing and anti-Covid measures like screens and hand sanitisers, and the exact same measures are in place in Scotland… We would urge Nicola Sturgeon to intervene before it’s too late.”